Mary Poppins Sindy and other Mary Poppins Dolls
Walt Disney's famous Mary Poppins film was based on the novels of Australian-British writer P.L. Travers and was a mixture of live action and animation. It was released in 1964 and it was a huge success and was nominated for thirteen oscars at the 37th Academy Awards in 1965, winning five, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. Merchandising was extensive including crockery, games, puzzles, brunch bags, money boxes, paper dolls and photo albums. Several companies were licensed to produce Mary Poppins 12" teenage fashion dolls across the world. Two of these dolls, in Australia and New Zealand, used Sindy as Mary.
This page will show the four Mary Poppins teenage dolls from the 1960s that we know of:
- New Zealand's Line Bros (NZ) Ltd Mary Poppins
- Australia's Tuff Toys Mary Poppins
- America's Horsman Dolls Inc. Mary Poppins, and
- Canada's Reliable Toy Co. Limited Mary Poppins.
The 'Sindy' Mary Poppins
1965 Sindy Dolls
In Australia, it made more commercial sense to import Sindy dolls straight from Hong Kong right from the beginning in 1964, rather than ship them over from England. The demand for Sindy dolls was enormous and it is likely that some of these Hong Kong Sindy dolls also ended up in the European market to makeup order shortfalls that could not be completely fulfilled by the Merton factory.
In New Zealand, dolls were partly manufactured in New Zealand with some parts imported from the Hong Kong factories and assembled locally to comply with New Zealand’s Market Protection Policies.
So, for reference here is a short summary of the usual Sindy dolls that could be found in each country in 1965 which is when we see the Sindy Mary Poppins. The list below excludes the Mini Sindys which are also 1965 dolls and were made in Hong Kong.
Australia (and possibly
No markings on head or body with bending vinyl legs. Both normal size and very hard small heads were sold on full size bodies. Torso may be yellow in colour.
United Kingdom (and Europe)
Made in England on head, no body markings with bending vinyl legs.
New Zealand's Sindy Mary Poppins
In New Zealand, Lines
Bros (NZ) Ltd were the sole licensee to produce Mary Poppins dolls, and in 1965 Sindy took
the lead role in "Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins Complete with Working Dress and
Apron by Pedigree". Although there is no mention of Sindy on the
packaging, these dolls were standard New Zealand Sindy dolls. They have no markings on the hard vinyl head
or the body and have the firm vinyl arms and legs with internal wire armature that
allows them to be posed, although over time, the vinyl often hardens so the
limbs no longer bend. The doll’s torso is often more yellow in colour than
Poppins had an outfit which consisted of a long white and dark blue striped cotton work dress with lace trim
at the neck and cuffs, a white cotton bib apron with red printed ‘Mary Poppins’ logo
on the bib, black sheer Sindy nylon stockings, black plastic shoes with
bow detail, a dark blue felt coat with two blue buttons at the front, a blue flocked hard
plastic hat decorated with a small bunch of plastic flowers and held under the
bun with elastic, and a carpet bag with gold handles.
Also included was her cotton travelling dress with a white bodice and long mauve skirt. It was trimmed at the neck with lace and was decorated with pink velvet ribbon with pearl stud. The doll wore white panties.
We believe this fashion to be the same as some first issue Mary Poppins dolls by the US company Horsman Dolls Inc (see more below).
According to the advert Mary came wearing her sleeveless, cotton "travelling dress" with a white bodice and long mauve skirt. It was trimmed at the neck with lace and was decorated with pink velvet ribbon with pearl stud. It fastened at the back with two white buttons. Variations of the velvet ribbon have been spotted and we have seen this dress with a much paler pink velvet ribbon.
Mary's travelling bag was a woven carpet bag with brass ring handles which was attached to the bag with an embossed gold tape made of plastic. Attached to the tape was a metal stud fastener to close the bag and at the base was a cardboard rectangle to shape the bag.
There appears to be two types of black shoes found with the boxed Sindy Mary Poppins. Shown above left are a pair of hard plastic flat shoes with a moulded bow detail and shown above right Sindy's 1960s black lace-ups. We would be grateful to know what shoes came with any other New Zealand Mary Poppins found in their boxes or known to be with orginal outfits.
These dolls were packaged in a cardboard tray with cellophane wrap, and as noted above there is no mention of Sindy on the packaging. They are highly sought after but are difficult to find, especially in good condition. While a few mint examples are known, we are yet to see one completely Never Removed From Box (NRFB) with the cellophane still in place. We would love to hear from anyone who has a NRFB example or can offer any further information on these dolls.
Australia's Sindy Mary Poppins
The only thing
to set this doll apart from other Sindy dolls of the time is her long, centre parted, very dark brown hair.
The doll wears a long red and off-white
striped short sleeved dress and an off-white apron with the words "Walt
Disney’s Mary Poppins" inside an umbrella printed in red on the apron skirt. The neck and sleeves of the dress were finished with a matching cotton binding and it fastened at the back with two metal snap fasteners. The apron fastened simply at the back of the waist with a bowline knot. Black Sindy sheer stockings and black Sindy lace-up shoes completed the outfit.
America's Mary Poppins
different to Sindy, the US Horsman Dolls Inc company produced a series of Mary Poppins dolls
from 1964 to 1969 and she was reissued again in 1973. Of a similar proportion to Sindy, her 1960s body and legs are hard hollow plastic and
her arms are a soft vinyl. These dolls
are generally marked with an ‘H’ on the back of their heads. Mary's head is quite soft and she has pursed coral red lips and pale blue side-glance
The most common
doll seems to be the single doll in the travelling dress and coat.
We believe that the very early dolls wore the same fashion as the New Zealand Mary Poppins doll: the travelling dress with white bodice and mauve skirt and a pale pink velvet ribbon at the neck with pearl stud, a dark blue coat with two buttons at the front, a blue flocked hard plastic hat decorated with a small bunch of plastic flowers and held under the bun with elastic and the woven carpet bag with brass gold handles. She wore white nylon panties trimmed with lace around the legs.
It is possible that the New Zealand Mary Poppins and the first Horsman Mary Poppins had outfits made in part by the same factory. Again, David Fear notes that the Hong Kong factories Pedigree used were manufacturing for a number of different companies (12S Magazine, edn Number 6, page 9).
early version of the outfit seems to be harder to find; the more common version, which is shown above, is the travelling dress with white bodice and mauve skirt, with a lilac or pink velvet ribbon
stitched at the neck without the pearl, a mid-blue coat with two buttons at the front and a blue
felt hat decorated with a small bunch of fabric flowers and held under the bun
with elastic (shown right).
She still came with the woven patterned carpet bag with brass gold handles, the pink plastic working umbrella with a grey/blue
plastic ruffle frill and white wooden handle, the black knitted ribbed stockings
and black boots with three molded bows down the front. She also wore white nylon panties trimmed with lace around the legs.
Mary was also packaged with just this 'Jolly Holiday' outfit with her white satin and velveteen flower trim dress, white straw hat with pink velvet flower decoration, white knitted stockings and boots, and the pretty mauve-blue and pink ruffle umbrella.
In 1966 another giftset was issued which saw Mary in her 'travelling' dress and coat outfit and which included her small charges, Jane and Michael Banks. Michael wears black velvet shorts with gold button, yellow shirt with white collar and mauve tie with gold button, white socks and black shoes. Jane wears a pink dress with mauve lace trim and purple velvet belt, white socks, white shoes and purple hair ribbon. Jane and Michael were also sold without the Mary Poppins doll.
A single doll in outdoor dress and the giftset with
additional outfits were reissued for a Horsman 50th Anniversary in
1973. This time the doll had stiffer arms, had paler pink lips and her hair was loose. The travelling dress no longer had a ribbon tie and both dress and
coat are tagged made in Taiwan. The hat was now decorated with a single large
pink flower (dark pink and light pink versions can be found) and lacked an elastic band. The umbrella was now made from
cardboard. The carpet bag attached to the doll's wrist by black elastic instead of gold brass rings.
Carpet Bags and Umbrellas
Jolly Holiday (Party) Dresses and Hats (Party Bonnets)
Canada's Mary Poppins
Canada also had a Mary Poppins doll made by the Reliable Toy Company Limited of Toronto, Canada. This doll shares a face sculpt with Tammy, and is very similar to Sindy. She is colloquially known as the ‘Tammy Mary Poppins’. This Mary Poppins appears to have been issued slightly later in 1966/67.
She was sold
wearing an ankle length, sleeveless, red cotton dress with a red embroidery thread trim around the neck and
armholes. It fastened at the back with two large white metal open backed fasteners. Over her dress she wore a mid-length dark collarless blue coat lined at the front with red cotton and which fastened with one red button. Around her neck she wore a white nylon net scarf woven with a flower motif.
For her feet she wore short white plastic molded ankle button boots.
Also seen in the 1967 Reliable Dolls Catalogue is a version of this Mary Poppins with an extra blue and white gingham work dress and a white bib apron. The neck and sleeves of the day dress were trimmed with lace, as were the neck and hem of the apron.
Lastly, we have seen in a 1967 Simpson-Sears catalogue a Mary Poppins with both her Jolly Holiday red and white dress and hat, and her blue and white gingham work dress and apron as extra outfits.
Unfortunately we don't have these dolls to show you and we would be grateful to hear from anyone who has these dolls and/or outfits who would be willing to show them in the museum.
Canadian Mary is harder to find than the US Horsman Mary, but does come up for sale in online auction sites from time to time.